Category Archives: Competitions

Youth Comes to the Fore and Baumert and Handsome Complete a Clean Sweep at AGDF

Natalia Bacariza riding Dhannie Ymas. Photo Credit: ©SusanJStickle.

Wellington, FL — March 18, 2018 — The sixth annual Florida International Youth Dressage Championships (FIYDC) were the highlight of competition on the final day of week 10, Sunday, March 18, of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

The 2018 Florida International Youth Dressage Championships — presented by Terri Kane, Hampton Green Farm, Sarah Davis, USEF Owners’ Dressage Task Force and Dressage 4Kids — took place alongside senior competition in week 10 at the AGDF. It featured competition for riders in the Under-25, Young Rider, Junior, Children and Pony divisions, offering them a chance to compete on the big stage and showcase their talent at one of the world’s largest and most high-profile dressage competitions.

There were five youth division winners, with 16-year-old Natalia Bacariza from Spain winning the overall trophy for the highest average score. She beat six other Junior riders, winning all three classes with over 71% on the Yeguada De Ymas’s 11-year-old Don Crusador gelding, Dhannie Ymas — former ride of her trainer Juan Matute Guimon and his kür gold medal-winning 2015 Junior European Championships partner.

“I am super happy about winning; I’ve wanted this for a very long time and I’m really happy that we finally did it,” said Bacariza, who is from Madrid and is the daughter of Cristina Danguillecourt and Javier Bacariza, owners of the Yeguada de Ymas. “I’ve been riding Dhannie for three months. He was ridden by Juan before, so he already knows his job, but you still have to ride him and not make any mistakes. Our best test was the individual [71.716%] and I’m very excited about our journey together.

“Our highlights were probably the changes and the trot work. We’re finished with the Wellington season now and then we’re going to be competing in Europe — first in Spain then Germany and maybe France,” added the teenager, who has big career aspirations. “I hope to improve my riding and continue my career in dressage and hopefully become another big champion.”

It was another win for Spain in the Under-25 division, with Rodrigo Encinas Fuentes and Van The Man leading the field of 10 entrants. The horse is owned by Cesar Parra, who rode the now 16-year-old gelding by Obelisk at grand prix at AGDF in 2013, 2014 and 2015 before handing the reins over to his young pupil.

Fuentes won only one of the three young rider tests, with Natalie Pai (USA) winning the other two on Unlimited, but his average score of 68.094% edged out Pai’s 67.746%.

“I was very happy with the horse; I felt he was truly with me and gave 100%,” said the 22-year-old Madrid native, who was competing at AGDF for the first time. “There are of course still some things I could improve, as always, but I’m truly happy with his attitude and he’s getting better test after test.

“This result means a lot. Just to compete at this level is great, but to win is better! I work really hard to get the opportunities to accomplish my goals, I’m really far from home and I sacrificed a lot,” added Fuentes, who left home at 18 looking for further riding opportunities in Europe before meeting Juan Matute, who invited him to the USA. “He really helped me, and the family opened the doors of their house for me. I learned a lot and its thanks to them, and also to Dr. Cesar Parra, who has treated me like his own son. He’s taught me not just about horses, but also how to be a better man.”

It was Canada’s Beatrice Boucher who came out on top of the 17 competitors in the Young Rider division. Riding Gilles Bergeron’s 15-year-old Del Piero gelding Delfiano, she averaged 69.415% across the three tests.

“The horse belongs to Camille Bergeron’s father and I wasn’t expecting to compete him at all, but I am so happy we can now do the young rider championships,” said the 20-year-old from Quebec, who picked up the ride when Camille no longer had enough time for Delfiano as well as her other horses. “I’ve only been riding him for a year but he’s such a puppy dog and always in your pocket — he’s so nice to be around. He’s never negative, he’s always your team mate and he’s so consistent. He’s a real pleasure and he gives his best all the time.”

The youngest division winner came in the form of 13-year-old Tori Belles from Pennsylvania riding PJ Rizvi’s pony Prince Z to an average score of 67.498%.

“I’ve been riding him for a month,” she said. “He’s been to the European Championships [he was a Dutch team medal winner under Febe van Zwambagt in 2011] and it’s a privilege from PJ Rizvi to show and compete him. He gives you the best feeling ever and supports you — even if you have a little mistake he tries to support you and help you out. I’m hoping to carry on showing him and also go to Lamplight festival of champions.”

The final winner was another to hail from Canada. Lily-Rose Lemaire, 14, rode the former broodmare World Lady, 18, to the Children’s title.

“My ride was very good this weekend and I’m so happy. My horse was with me and I think it’s my best ride with her,” said Lemaire, who only took up riding three years ago and began the partnership with World Lady six months ago. “This was my first CDI in Wellington as I had only done national shows before. This is my first season in Wellington and it is a beautiful place.”

Sponsor Terri Kane of Diamante Farms, who sponsors the under-25 division throughout AGDF and supports FIYDC, said: “This is the future of dressage and if these kids aren’t out there competing, then our sport will die. It’s very important for people in the dressage community to show that we support them and that we care.”

Of the entries from six different nations, she added: “It’s exciting. Just like for our national and international athletes, it’s very important for these athletes to compete against other countries to make themselves better. We had a huge junior group this year, so hopefully they continue riding and go into the u-25 and hopefully a lot of these riders will go on to become professionals and continue to compete after they age out of the u-25.”

Jennifer Baumert made it three wins from three starts on Handsome in week 10. PBIEC is a lucky venue for the American duo, who have won a staggering eight classes this season.

Baumert posted 75.2% on Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s 13-year-old Hochadel gelding, with fellow American Jodie Kelly-Baxley on Caymus, by Sir Sinclair, slotting in to second (74.175%) and Canada’s Brittany Fraser filling third with Jill Irving’s Sir Donnerhall gelding, Soccer City (72.875%).

“He’s awesome,” grinned Baumert. “I was pumped in there because Debbie [McDonald] psyched me up to get him really in front of me and taking every opportunity I could between movements to push him up in front and come into every movement with a lot of power. And we did that!

“She was amping me up because I’m one of those people that wants everything to be really pretty and harmonious and nice, and she pushes me to shake it up and come out of my comfort zone. This is a great way to close, as it’s our last show at Global. We’re hoping to go to Tryon [for the test event CDI in April] and the national championships at small tour.”

Baumert, who was competing Handsome at the AGDF for the second successive year, usually returns to her Ohio base in April, but is staying on in Wellington this year.

“We’re going to stay until the team goes off to Europe to take advantage of Debbie’s help until then, so I’m looking forward to that,” she said. “That’ll probably be until June, when it’s really hot here in Florida, but Havensafe Farm has lots of trees and a covered ring and it always feels about 10 degrees cooler there, so I’m hoping that’ll work out for us.”

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Vanderveen Punches Ticket to Paris with First Longines Victory in Ocala

Photo: Kristen Vanderveen aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili. (FEI/Erin Gilmore)

Kristen Vanderveen (USA) was a winner on all fronts at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Ocala (USA). Not only did she claim her first Longines victory with an uncatchable jump-off aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, but she also gained the points necessary to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Paris (FRA) in three weeks’ time.

“It’s really very surreal for me right now,” said Vanderveen, 28. “I’ve always wanted to go to World Cup Finals, and this was a little bit of a last minute decision to come here and see if I could do something special today and get in.”

“It’s really very surreal for me right now. I’ve always wanted to go to the World Cup Finals!” — Kristen Vanderveen (USA)

The stage was set at the beautiful Live Oak Plantation after just three riders managed to produce a clear first round over the course set by Kelvin Bywater (GBR). Vanderveen was dealt the disadvantageous position of having to go first in the jump-off, but she blazed an unbeatable time of 45.93 seconds, galloping full out to the final Longines oxer and getting across the ground swiftly with her horse’s large stride. Last to go, Beat Mändli (SUI) and Galan S made a valiant run at the winner but brought down two rails in the process. Brianne Goutal (USA) and Viva Colombia produced the only other double-clear performance to finish as runners-up with a time of 52.99 seconds.

“There were only 3 of us, so I figured I’d play it out fast as we could and see what happened,” Vanderveen explained. “He fired for me, and he shined for me in the jump-off. He’s a super fast horse.”

America’s Paris Lineup Takes Shape

As the final event of the North American League, Live Oak’s results solidified the American qualifiers for Paris. Vanderveen, with 41 total points for the season, sits sixth in the east coast sub league standings of the North American League and is the fifth-ranked U.S. rider. Eight U.S. riders, including defending World Cup Jumping Final Champion McLain Ward, qualify from this sub league. Devin Ryan finished 11th in Ocala with Eddie Blue, causing him to conclude the season as the third-ranked U.S. rider; he also plans to compete in Paris. West coast rider Jamie Barge (USA) and Luebbo journeyed east to assure themselves a Paris qualification. They are the third-ranked U.S. rider from the west coast sub league; three qualify for Paris.

Beat Mändli, winner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington (USA), finished the season atop the east coast sub league standings with 53 points. Richard Spooner (USA), who won in Las Vegas (USA), was the best in the west, finishing with 60 points.

The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final takes place in Paris from 10-15 April 2018.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 46

Adcox and Weber Take Division Leads in USEF Combined Driving National Championships

Photo: Scott Adcox (

Ocala, Fla. – The USEF Combined Driving National Championships got underway with the first of three phases at Live Oak International. Two of the five championship divisions completed their dressage tests; Scott Adcox takes the early lead in the Intermediate Pair Horse division with a score of 60.88 penalties. Chester Weber tops the leaderboard in the four-in-hand division with a score of 40.11 penalties.


USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Adcox (Myakka City, Fla.) and Shane Doyle (Hillsborough, N.J.) broke in the arena footing as the Intermediate Pair Horse division opened the first day of competition. Adcox, who returned to combined driving this year after taking a year off from competition, finds himself in the lead with Harley, Tom Warriner’s 14-year-old Saddlebred/Friesian gelding, and Pepe, his six-year-old KWPN gelding.

“Dressage is not my strong suit. I borrowed Harley from Tom Warriner a week ago to see if we could do a bit better and help with my other horse’s [Pepe’s] weak points. However, in a week there is not a lot of time to change that, but he tried. [Harley] is such a steady eddie, so I can count on him to do his job, whereas [Pepe] the six-year-old I had to manage a little more.”

Doyle follows with a score of 66.64 penalties with his geldings Valentino, a 15-year-old KWPN, and Bono, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood.

Advanced Four-in-Hand

USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship

The 14-time USEF Four-in-Hand National Champion Chester Weber (Ocala, Fla.) carries the early lead in the four-in-hand division. He and his KWPN geldings, First Edition (eight years old), Boris W (11 years old), and Asjemenou (12 years old), along with Jane Clark’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Splash (14 years old), executed a near flawless test to finish on 40.11 penalties.

“I was very pleased with my horses today; they are coming together. Tryon [FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018] is our goal in September. We had two minor errors in the walk, and without those we may have been in the 30s, but I was pleased with them and how they showed up,” said Weber, who also serves as Co-President of the Live Oak International alongside his sister Juliet Reid. “The [USEF Combined Driving] national championships, whether the first or 14th, mean a lot. It’s one of the two goals we go after every year. It’s important to me, and I would like to see us get it done.”

Following Weber is the 2017 USEF Four-in-Hand Reserve National Champion Misdee Wrigley Miller (Paris, Ky.) and her KWPN geldings Beau (11 years old), Bravour 54 (10 years old) and Bolino D (11 years old) and her Dutch Warmblood gelding Calipso 86 (10 years old) with 46.84 penalties.

“The history here at Live Oak [International]; we know we are going to get the best America has to offer when we come to compete,” said Wrigley Miller. “I took a bit of a gamble today and used a new leader [Bravour 54] to see how he reacted to the atmosphere. I was really pleased with him until towards the end of the test at our last extension near the television screen. He saw himself on the screen, so that unsettled the team a little bit.”

Allison Stroud (Kennett Square, Pa.) and Willow Star, LLC’s Dutch Warmblood gelding team of Anesco 4 (12 years old), Ulco (16 years old), Olando (21 years old) and Enzo (eight years old) sit in third place with 53.15 penalties.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Five USEF Combined Driving National Championships on the Line at Live Oak International

Photo: Chester Weber (

Ocala, Fla. – Combined driving athletes will descend upon the majestic Live Oak Plantation this week for a shot at a USEF Combined Driving National Championship title. Live Oak International, running Thursday, March 15 through Sunday, March 18, returns as the host for the USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship and welcomes four new USEF Intermediate Combined Driving National Championship divisions.

Advanced Four-in-Hand

USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship

The 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ individual silver medalist and 2012 FEI World Driving Championships for Four-in-Hand individual silver and team bronze medalist Chester Weber (Ocala, Fla.) looks to extend his USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship record. He will harness his powerhouse team of Splash, Jane Clark’s 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, and his First Edition, an eight-year-old KWPN gelding; Boris W, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding; Asjemenou, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding; and Reno, an eight-year-old gelding, as he chases his 15th national title at his home farm.

However, the 2017 USEF Advanced Combined Driving Four-in-Hand Reserve National Champion Misdee Wrigley-Miller (Paris, Ky.) will be in hot pursuit with her Beau, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding; Bravour 54, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding; Bolino D, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding; Calipso 86, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding; Daan 8, a 10-year-old KNHS gelding; and Saco, an 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Both join championship veterans James Fairclough (Newton, N.J.), 2012 FEI World Driving Championships for Four-in-Hand team bronze medalist, Paul Maye (Fairfield, Va.) and Allison Stroud (Kennett Square, Pa.) as well as newcomers Wiebe Dragstra (Southern Pines, N.C.) and Mary Ruth Marks (Verona, Wis.), who will attempt to win their first title.


USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Scott Adcox (Myakka City, Fla.) and Shane Doyle (Hillsborough, N.J.) will go head-to-head for the USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship. Adcox has competed in single horse combined driving events for the past several years. He will compete in his first pair horse division for at Live Oak, entering Nupafeed Auto Pilot, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding; Nupafeed’s Leap of Faith, a 14-year-old mare; and Pepe, a six-year-old KWPN gelding.

USEF Intermediate Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

In the largest combined driving division at Live Oak International, 11 athletes will vie for the USEF Intermediate Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship. Taylor Bradish (Windsor, S.C.) won the preliminary single horse division at the Palm Tree Combined Driving Event at Little Everglades in January with her own Katydid Duchess. She makes the leap with Katrina Becker’s nine-year-old Welsh Pony Cross mare to the intermediate division aiming for her first title. However, she can expect tough competition from veteran drivers including 2014 FEI World Para-Equestrian Driving Championships for Singles individual silver and team bronze medalist Bob Giles (Morriston, Fla.), 2010 FEI World Singles Driving Championships competitor Robin Groves and her husband Wilson Groves (Brownsville, Vt.), Anna Koopman (Middleburg, Va.), Cathy Thomas (Verona, Wis.), and Marcie Quist (Vass, N.C.). Robin Groves won the FEI Single Horse Division at Live Oak International in 2009 and placed second in 2011, while Quist placed second in the FEI Single Horse CAI2* at the 2017 Live Oak International.

USEF Intermediate Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Katie Whaley (Paris, Ky.) and Esther “Boots” Wright (Ocala, Fla.) will battle it out for the USEF Intermediate Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship. Whaley is the 2016 and 2017 USEF Advanced Pair Pony Combined Driving National Champion. She will compete with her own Welsh Cross pony geldings Tommy, 14 years old, and Tanner, 11 years old. She also brings along her five-year-old Teddy to give him experience as he is not old enough for Fédération Equestre Internationale competition.

USEF Intermediate Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Six entries make up the USEF intermediate Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship division. Jennifer Keeler (Paris, Ky.) has won every single pony combined driving event she has entered and aims to keep that streak alive with a title victory. She brings her Zeppo, a six-year-old Hackney gelding. Janelle Marshall (Williston, S.C.) has only finished outside the top three twice out of 13 single pony combined driving competitions. She brings Kennebec Joyce, John Merritt’s 10-year-old Morgan mare. Others competing in the division include Nancy Dimick (Randolph, Vt.), Jackie Kane (Hudson, Mass.), Tayler Roundtree (Auburn, Calif.), and Kristin Whittington (Edinburgh, Ind.).

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Week VIII Wraps Up at HITS Ocala

Aaron Vale and Exclusive. ESI Photography.

Feature classes during Week VIII of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit included several repeat winners and introduced some new riders to the victory circle as well. With two more weeks to finish the season, competition is heating up for riders qualifying for the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix and riders vying for the Horseware Ireland Grand Circuit Champion and Tack Shack of Ocala Second-Half Circuit Champion award.

Well-known Grand Prix rider Aaron Vale started off Week VIII with a bang, winning the $5,000 Johnson Horse Transportation Welcome for the second week in a row, aboard EXCLUSIVE with a jump-off time of 28.572. Vale also took the fourth place title aboard STAKKO with a jump-off time of 30.720. Second place was earned by Brian Feigus and CARLA with a jump-off time of 28.959 while Dorothy Douglas took the third place spot aboard CHACCO LAIT with a jump-off time of 29.755. Rounding out the top five was Bryn Sadler aboard BULL RUN’S LIVING with a jump-off time of 30.956.

On Thursday, the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix took place once again. For the second week in a row, Venezuelan rider Emanuel Andrade took the first place award aboard U with a jump-off time of 37.268. He also took both the second and fourth place awards aboard ANASTASIA DU PARK and GRAN MAMUT and jump-off times of 37.459 and 37.741, respectively. Lisa Goldman earned both the third and fifth place awards aboard HINDSIGHT and SOVEREIGN and jump-off times of 37.636 and 38.628.

Friday brought even more success to Andrade, as he was both first and second place in the $10,000 Open Prix aboard BOY IV and JENNI’S CHANCE and jump-off times of 27.748 and 29.601, respectively. German rider Andre Thieme took the third place spot aboard FORAMI with a jump-off time of 30.691. Goldman continued to be successful, placing fourth aboard CENTURION B and a jump-off time of 30.881. Fifth place was earned by Mark Jungherr and CONTE COULEUR with a jump-off time of 32.461.

The $10,000 1.35m Classic took place on Saturday, with a very competitive round-two. Andrade continued his winning streak, taking first, third, and fifth places aboard QUILINA VD LAARSEHEIDE Z, CORTINA 168, and TUPAC VAN DE VROMBAUTSHOEVE Z and jump-off times of 36.715, 37.026, and 37.314. Goldman and CENTURION B were the second place finishers with a jump-off time of 36.908 while Dorothy Douglas came in fourth place aboard MTM QUESTRO with a jump-off time of 37.280.

Sunday afternoon, international riders gathered in the Grand Prix ring at HITS Post Time Farm for the $50,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix. The crowd gathered for what would end up being one of the most exciting Grand Prix so far this winter. Riders signified that they would donate 10% of their prize money to Marion County Therapeutic Riding Association, by riding with a blue ribbon tied around their arm, making their rides even more special.  It was a tricky round one, with eleven riders returning for the jump-off.

Taking the win, after an incredible jump-off ride, was Canadian rider Francois Lamontagne aboard his mare CHANEL DU CALVAIRE in a jump-off time of 36.983. Francois skillfully rode through the course, leaving out two strides before the final fence, securing the fastest fault-free time. Second place was earned by Kirk Webby and BRANDO DU ROUET with a jump-off time of 37.078. Following him, Vale was the third place rider aboard MAJOR with a jump-off time of 37.989. Candice King and CALISTO 26 took the fourth place spot with a jump-off time of 38.742. Last, but certainly not least, Andre Thieme rounded out the top five aboard CUPERTINO with a jump-off time of 39.101.

Week VIII was an important one for the Hunters as it was World Championship Hunter Rider week. Riders had the opportunity to show in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium for many classes this week.

On Saturday, the Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, the Devoucoux Hunter Prix, and the USHJA Pony Hunter Derby took place. In the $1,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, Jacquelyn Maggiore and CONTINA were awarded first place with a two-round total of 169. Only half of a point behind her, in second place was Emma Nichols and MOST OF ALL with a two-round total of 168.5. Karen Kogon and GALLANT MAJI T came in third place with a two-round total of 168 while fourth place was awarded to Lila Ouellette and KING OF HEARTS with a two-round total of 163. Allison Palmisciano came in fifth place aboard QUIBAJO and a two-round total of 161.

Morgan Ward and HUEHUETENANGO were the winners of the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix with a two-round total of 174. Close behind her, second place was awarded to Caroline Willard and BARON DE LEY with a two-round total of 169.5. Molly McAdow came in third place aboard CASTON with a two-round total of 165 while fourth place was Abigail Lefkowitz and CONTINENTAL with a two-round total of 163.5. Rounding out the top five was Harold Chopping and GOLD RUSH with a two-round total of 163.

In the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby, Emilia Richard and FAIRYTALES came out on top with a two-round total of 162. Second place was awarded to Sophia Ayers and PRIMA BALLERINA with a two-round total of 156.5. Anneliese De Rosaire and GAP SPRINGS HEART’S DESIRE came in third with a two-round total of 156. In fourth place was Mae Mannis and DAYS OF OUR LIVES with a two-round total of 152. Fifth was awarded to Katherine Ellis and BLUE MOON with a two-round total of 151.

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Inside the Dutch Masters: The Final Day

Niels Bruynseels (picture: Ashley Neuhof).

The Rolex Grand Prix Winner: Niels Bruynseels

Niels Bruynseels is the new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender following a sensational performance in the Rolex Grand Prix at the Dutch Masters, one of the four Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Under the spotlights of the Brabanthal arena, the world’s best horse and rider combinations battled for the pinnacle prize of the weekend, all vying to start their Rolex Grand Slam journey.

The 13 riders through to the jump-off included Great Britain’s Scott Brash, the only rider so far to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, putting extra pressure on the competitors. Eighth to go, Marcus Ehning, raised the bar with a speedy clear round in 37.80 secs, but it was Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels who shifted the pace up a gear to clinch the victory and his first ever Major in 37.10 secs.


  • 2016 and 2017 Stephex Rolex Grand Prix Winner
  • Horse: Gancia De Muze, a 12-year-old bay mare


  • Winner of 3 Majors & Olympic Gold Medallist
  • Horse: Cornado NRW, a 15-year-old grey stallion


  • World Number 2
  • Horse: Emerald, A 14-year-old chestnut stallion

Winners Interview with Niels Bruynseels

How does it feel to win your first Major?

“This has to be one of my biggest victories. I don’t even have the words to say how much it means to me. This show has always been great, but the support of Rolex has made it even better and it is an honour for me to come here and compete against the best riders in the world. The atmosphere in the arena was incredible; it was a very special moment for me.”

Your Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping campaign has started; is CHIO Aachen going to be your focus now?

“Aachen is certainly the next stop for me. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is the biggest prize in our sport and I hope I can come to Germany in July and repeat what I have achieved here.”

Do you feel that the course lived up to the Rolex Grand Prix standard?

“I think the team of course designers did a very good job; it was a tough course but good for the horses. There were 13 in the jump-off which is nice for the crowd and created top competition.”

And what about your horse – has she done you proud today?

“My horse was a superstar today. I cannot thank her enough. She always tries her best for me and I couldn’t be happier with her performance this afternoon. I think I was at advantage going last in the jump-off. I was able to see all the other riders go before me and where the course was difficult. I had a plan in my head; I knew I would need a fast ride, and Grancia exceeded all expectations; she is a special horse for sure.”

Words from the Course Designer, Louis Konickx

Talk to us about the process of designing such an important course like a Rolex Grand Prix.

“We first came up with the ideas and concept three weeks ago. My assistant and I are in constant communication, always bouncing ideas off each other; it is a team effort. Because the arena is bigger this year, we added longer combinations and more related distances. It is also very important to make sure you have the right number of verticals and oxers because if you are too defensive and have too many hard oxers, it asks too much of the horse and will not get the desired number of clear rounds. It needs to be challenging… but achievable.”

Are there any particular tricky parts you put in?

“Yes, but we wanted to make sure that there was a variety for the different types of horses.”

“If you just build big oxers, it challenges the horses that don’t have scope but is easy for the horses that do, so it is vital that we have diversity which will ultimately produce the best competition.”

“In all cases we are wanting to test the tuning between horse and rider and their ability to work together in a partnership; that is what we are searching for as course designers.”

Is there more pressure on you now that this Rolex Grand Prix is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

“Yes, there is certainly more pressure! Most of it comes from the riders; they really want to win this class and go after the Rolex Grand Slam which means we need to make sure the course gives them the opportunity to compete at the best of their ability. Now that this is part of the Rolex Grand Slam there is more at stake than just the result of this Grand Prix.”

What makes you passionate about your role?

“Every day and every event are different. I have particularly enjoyed this year at the Dutch Masters as we have designed a lot of new fences and have created a sense of the Netherlands within that. We have focused on Dutch artists, for example Van Gogh, who we think represents a ‘Dutch Master’. We have also designed fences to represent the Dutch fruit, all small touches that I think make the course extra special.”


Inside the Dutch Masters: Saturday 10th March

Lorenzo De Luca (picture: Ashley Neuhof).

Behind the Scenes with Lorenzo De Luca, Number One Italian Rider

Who do you think is your biggest competitor on Sunday?

“There were some great performances yesterday. I think Philipp Weishaupt is looking very good, of course Daniel Deusser was on top form last night and Luciana Diniz has been riding really well so far this year.”

“It is going to be a very tough competition as there are a lot of good riders in the line-up!”

Do you have any superstitions before you compete?

“Not really. I just stay relaxed and keep my horse nice and quiet; he is very sensitive, so I need to be calm for him. I just focus on my horse, myself and that’s it!”

What advice can you give to young riders who aspire to be in your position one day?

“My best advice would be ‘to not go too quick!’ That can cause all sorts of problems. My second piece of advice is to keep learning and growing. The Show Jumping world is such a magical place, every horse and every rider is different, so you can always expand your knowledge of the sport.”

Thoughts on the course Sunday?

“It is going to be hard! Last year I remember the course was very difficult, and now the prize money has been increased and it is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping; the competition is going to be tougher than ever. I think the crowds are in for a treat!”

Behind the Stable Door with Sean Lynch, Daniel Deusser’s Groom

Who is Daniel riding in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday?

“He is riding Cornet D’Amour on Sunday, a really special horse with a very big character. He is very sensitive to noise and when there’s lots of it; he’s not the easiest to control but he is one of the nicest horses to be around. All my horses are nice and normal though, so I never have a problem with them.”

What is the horse’s routine immediately after a big competition like the Rolex Grand Prix at a Major?

“We wash them down and give them some hay, so they can relax and cool down. We put the ice boots on and then follow up with the spa boots and as soon as they are dry we put a massage blanket on for 45 minutes! The massage blanket is amazing and has different programmes, so we usually put it on the programme designed for back treatment relief if they have jumped a big class. Cornet gets more spa treatments than any of us do!”

Are you and Daniel thinking about the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

“I am hoping that Sunday goes well and then we can really start to focus on the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.”

“It has made show jumping more interesting for the riders and the public, and it is certainly the thing that riders talk about wanting to win the most.”

“So, if we have success in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday we will be planning our schedule around the next Majors for sure.”

How do you cope with the pressure of a Rolex Grand Prix? Does Daniel feel the pressure? 

“I do feel the pressure a bit! I have to do my job well enough to make sure Daniel has the best chance on Sunday. We have to work together to make sure the horse is fit and is in peak condition. With Cornet D’Amour I always get quite nervous, especially when he has won a class already like he did in the Grand Prix qualifier last night. Sometimes I just stay quiet for the whole day and don’t talk to anyone!”

“Daniel is Mr. Cool! He doesn’t let the pressure get to him; he knows what he needs to do and does the job. For me he is one of the best riders around, very relaxed and very calm.”

The Audi Prize, and second qualifier of the Rolex Grand Prix, provided an evening of world-class entertainment in the Brabanthal arena, with only five of the 41 starters jumping clear in the first round. Maikel Van Der Vleuten was third to go in the jump-off, navigating the course in a nimble fashion to produce the winning round of the night.


  • World number 11
  • Horse: Arera C, a 13-year-old bay mare

2nd Place: JOHNNY PALS (NED)

  • One of the top Dutch riders
  • Horse: Chat Botte Du Ruisseau Z, a 10-year-old chestnut stallion


  • European Champion
  • Horse: Hansson WL, A 10-year-old bay stallion


Inside the Dutch Masters: Friday 9th March

Kevin Staut, Anky van Grunsven (show president) and Jeroen Dubbeldam (picture: Kit Houghton).

Behind the Scenes with World Champion Jeroen Dubbeldam and Team Olympic Gold Medalist Kevin Staut

What does it mean to you as a rider to come back and try and win this Rolex Grand Prix, which is now part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

Kevin Staut: “It is very emotional. I am very motivated, as is everyone else, especially Jeroen who is on his home ground. I appreciate this show for all of the different atmospheres in the ring – It is amazing. It is difficult for indoor shows to have comfortable areas for the horses and now the stables are really quiet and peaceful; we have enough time and space during the day to ride our horses. Sometimes we don’t mention this enough, but for the top sport we need this kind of comfort. Back to the sport – I am motivated; I have my most experienced horse here, so I hope I can get a good result on Sunday.”

Jeroen Dubbeldam: “This show was already one of the best indoor shows in the world, but this year in particular the progress has been incredible. They have done a fantastic job; you can almost ride everywhere and the setup is very chic. It is the first time here for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping which is something new and special; it brings something extra to the show for us. In terms of my success, this has not been one of my favourite shows. I haven’t been successful at this show yet, but things can change. Expectations are very dangerous; you can only try to prepare yourself as much as you can and hope for the best.”

What attracts you to the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

“The first thing that attracts me is the sport itself. And then at a show like this, with such a high level of riders, a great atmosphere and with this beautiful brand Rolex as the main sponsor – if that doesn’t attract you as a rider then you had better stop riding.”

Anky van Grunsven – Show President and Dressage Legend

What does it mean for The Dutch Masters to be hosting the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping for the first time?

“It makes me happy and very proud, and now we have tried to make it look even better than before. We are very happy to be in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping with the other big names, Geneva, Calgary and Aachen. We are very honoured and very proud.”

What was your reaction when you were told that The Dutch Masters would be part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

“Yes! I think it works out well for both sides; we are happy with Rolex and we hope that they are happy with us, not just now but also in ten years’ time. The pressure is very good – if you think you’re done, well that is the beginning of the end. After Sunday we can start to think what ‘what can we do better next year. That is the only way to stay at the top.”

Behind the Stable Door with David Honnet, Groom to Scott Brash, the Only Rider to Have Won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

How do you prepare the horses for a Show like The Dutch Masters, and especially looking ahead to the Rolex Grand Prix?

“We have to make a detailed plan three to four months in advance. A Rolex Grand Slam show is very important to Scott, and the team, so we know we have to prepare really well. It is not just me; there is a really big team behind Scott so we all work together. Ursula is pretty easy to prepare because she’s naturally good for the show, she has a lot of experience, is a very calm horse, and loves to compete at the Majors especially CHIO Aachen, CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva. She is older now, so needs extra work ahead of the events to make her fit and lean because she likes her food and can get a bit fat! She also needs to be lean because the jumps are big and it’s easier for her to jump if she is lighter.”

And Hello Shelby?

“Shelby has been with us for six months now so he is still a bit green. He is the opposite of Ursula; he is fresher, so we have to keep him under control. He needs to be worked hard so that when he gets to the show he doesn’t go crazy. But he is good; he is pretty easy and straightforward.”

What are your thoughts on the Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

“For me, even before I worked for Scott or before Scott became a Rolex Testimonee, they have been the best shows.”

“When you go to any of the four Majors you feel history, even if you are just a groom you get a feeling that you don’t get at the other shows. I like that they are tough courses.”

“You can’t have these shows every week because it is too hard on the horses but three or four times a year, when you know it is going to be hard for the rider and the horses, but the prize is big, it is great. For me the Rolex Grand Slam is the pinnacle of the sport and is almost untouchable which makes it so exciting. Knowing how hard it is to even win one Rolex Grand Prix, to win the Rolex Grand Slam will really stay in people’s heads and is recognised and respected by everyone.”

The 5* jumping action kicked off in style at The Dutch Masters with Germany’s Daniel Deusser proving to be on top form to take the VDL Groep Prize, a qualifier for the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix taking place on Sunday 11 March.

With only three horse and rider combinations competing in the jump off, they are the ones to watch as the journey towards the Rolex Grand Slam edges a step closer:


  • Olympic Team Bronze Medallist in 2016
  • Horse: Cornet D’Amour, a 15-year-old grey gelding


  • Winner of two Majors, the Rolex Grand Prix in CHIO Aachen in 2016 and the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2017
  • Horse: LB Convall, an 11-year-old grey stallion


  • World Number Two
  • Was honoured as the ‘2017 Rider of the Year’ in the Netherlands
  • Horse: Emerald, a 14-year-old chestnut stallion


Henrik Leads Western European Cavalry-Charge to Paris

Photo: Henrik von Eckermann. (FEI/Lotta Brundin Gyllensten)

The top riders weren’t hanging about in the aftermath of the last Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Western European League qualifier in Gothenburg (SWE). By last Friday, just five days after Henrik von Eckermann galloped to victory for the second year running at his home event, all 18 qualified for next month’s Longines 2018 Final had already confirmed their intention to compete in Paris (FRA), along with extra athletes Edwina Tops-Alexander from Australia and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez.

The City of Lights is calling, and the world’s top contenders for the most coveted prize in indoor Jumping are answering with a great big “YES!”

Von Eckermann’s last-leg success saw him leap-frog world number four and long-time league leader Kevin Staut who enjoyed another fantastic season, competing at 12 of the 13 Western European qualifiers and booking his spot without question. The Frenchman will be joined at the Final in the AccorHotels Arena from 11 to 15 April by compatriots Simon Delestre and Roger-Yves Bost.

Only one French rider has ever held the coveted FEI World Cup™ trophy in his hands: Bruno Brouqsault sprang a big surprise when winning through in Milan (ITA) in 2004, so there is a major incentive for the host-nation representatives to bring it home once again in this 40th season.

Britain’s Michael Whitaker said in Gothenburg, “It’s about time I won it!” and he’s right about that, having come so very close on many occasions. He’s hoping to make it happen at his 23rd attempt, but Germany’s Marcus Ehning will be bidding to become the first-ever four-time champion. The wizard of warp-speed very nearly leaped to the top of the league leaderboard with by far the fastest jump-off round at the Swedish fixture, only to be denied by a late-falling pole, and is likely to put all the pressure on the rest when the Final gets underway in five weeks’ time.

Ehning’s German counterpart and the 2011 champion, Christian Ahlmann, has also easily made the cut, and a total of 10 Western European nations will be represented at this year’s Final.

America’s McLain Ward is defending champion, and there’s still a way to go before the full line-up for Paris is announced, but it’s shaping up for a mighty battle.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
+41 78 750 61 46

Dutch Masters Set to Make Sensational Debut as Part of Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

Photo: Leopold van Asten, winner of the Rolex Grand Prix in March 2017 ©The Dutch Masters – Indoor Brabant.

The world’s top riders will converge in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands from 8-11 March for The Dutch Masters, the newest addition to the world’s ultimate prize in show jumping – the Rolex Grand Slam.

Eight of the world’s top 10 riders are expected to contest the highly anticipated Rolex Grand Prix, the first Major of 2018, as they seek to kick off the year in style and be in with a chance of winning the most sought-after prize in the sport: the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.  A prize of €1 million, on top of the prize money from each of the four shows, is on offer to any rider who wins three of the four Majors consecutively, with a further €1 million prize if that same rider continues his or her victory by winning a fourth Major in succession.

Anky van Grunsven, President of The Dutch Masters: “We are thrilled to become part of the prestigious Rolex Grand Slam alongside CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva – it is a real honour and we are looking forward to an exciting Grand Prix on Sunday.”

World number two ranked rider, Harrie Smolders: “What a great opportunity to have the chance to compete for one of the Majors in my own country. I am delighted that The Dutch Masters has become part of the Rolex Grand Slam and will be giving it everything I have got to try and win it.”

Founded over 50 years ago, The Dutch Masters, previously known as Indoor Brabant, has long been a highlight of the global equestrian calendar. However, the announcement in 2017 that the show would become the fourth Major within the coveted Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has elevated its status to one of the most prestigious events of the year, alongside CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva.

Over 60,000 spectators are expected to attend across the four days of competition, which also features FEI World Cup Dressage as well as the CSI5* Show Jumping, the pinnacle of which is the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday 11 March.


Sadly, American rider Kent Farrington was forced to officially withdraw from The Dutch Masters due to injury. Farrington won the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva last year and with this victory he started his challenge for the Rolex Grand Slam. Unfortunately, his chance to win the Rolex Grand Slam title is now gone for now.

Local riders Harrie Smolders and Maikel van der Vleuten, currently ranked second and eleventh in the world, respectively, will be looking to give the home crowd something to cheer about, following in the footsteps of compatriot Leopold van Asten, winner of the Rolex Grand Prix in 2017.

A strong contingent of Rolex Testimonees will be attempting to emulate the achievement of fellow Testimonee Scott Brash, who remains the only rider so far to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, following his emphatic victories in 2015.  Kevin Staut (FRA), a winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters in 2014, heads the challenge, with Canada’s Eric Lamaze, currently ranked world No. 12, making the trip from his winter base in Florida, USA for the competition. World No. 8 Steve Guerdat (SUI) will be making his 16th appearance in a Major, the only rider to have competed in all Majors since they began in 2013, with Britain’s Scott Brash also competing as he seeks to repeat his remarkable Rolex Grand Slam feat.

Reigning European Champion and Olympic silver medalist Peder Fredricson (SWE), world No. 7 Lorenzo de Luca (ITA), and the in-form Henrik Von Eckermann, fresh from victory in FEI World Cup Qualifier in Gothenburg, will add to the stellar line-up of riders taking part.

For further information on The Dutch Masters or the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, please visit